Slava Voynov has domestic violence charges dismissed

Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov's petition to have his 2015 domestic violence charges dismissed was granted by the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday.

That brings Voynov, 28, one step closer to his goal of returning to the NHL.

In October 2014, Voynov was arrested after he and his wife got into an argument at the couple's home in Redondo Beach, California. Voynov spent nearly two months in jail after pleading no contest to corporal injury against a spouse. After serving time, Voynov agreed to voluntarily leave the country and return to his native Russia. He played in the KHL for the next three seasons and competed in the 2018 Olympics.

Prosecutors opposed Voynov's request to dismiss his conviction and argued in court papers that it is "impossible to determine" whether he met all of the conditions of probation after his plea because he returned to Russia.

A doctor told the court that Voynov had completed 28 domestic violence counseling sessions but noted the couple had a "lack of emotional awareness and difficulty to communicate effectively," court documents said. The counseling, prosecutors argue, was not sufficient to satisfy the legal requirement after his plea.

The Kings terminated Voynov's six-year, $25 million contract and placed him on their voluntary retirement list. He is technically under contract through the 2018-19 season and the Kings retain his rights. According to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the Kings have the ability to trade those rights if they choose.

The NHL confirmed that Voynov had a meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman this spring to begin outlining the process of re-entering the league. The NHL was going to wait for this court decision as well as clarity on Voynov's immigration status before moving forward.

The NHL is the only one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America that doesn't have a specific domestic violence policy.

"At the time everything happened, he was dealing immediately with legal issues and immigration issues," Daly said in Las Vegas before the NHL Awards. "He really was not in a position where he could allow us to investigate in any meaningful way. And then he ended up going back to the KHL. Really, in a lot respects, we're starting from ground zero with him in terms for understanding exactly what happened, what transpired since, what all the circumstances are. Obviously, all of those would go into any ultimate decision by [NHL commissioner Gary Bettman] as to his eligibility to play."

According to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained the police report of the 2014 incident, Voynov choked his wife with both hands, repeatedly pushed her to the ground and kicked her five to six times on the ground. She was shoved into the corner of a television mounted on a wall and, according to the L.A. Times report, told police in a recorded interview: "My blood, all over bedroom and bathroom ... and it's not the first time."

Daly told The Associated Press by email that Voynov's status has not changed but that he can now proceed with a petition for reinstatement.

The Kings said in a statement to The AP: "Any decision to reinstate Slava Voynov into the league is in the hands of the NHL. It is premature to comment prior to the NHL's ruling."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.